Tell by Wilbur D. Nesbit

Poems for Children about Famous People William Tell

A poem about William Tell

The tale of Tell is simply told;
He would not heed the tyrant,
But, big and brave and bluffly bold
He spurned the cold aspirant—
He simply came out plain and flat
And his own rights defended;
He would not bow to Gessler’s hat
Upon the pole suspended.

Then Gessler came upon the scene
And ordered Tell to knuckle;
Tell fixed him with his glances keen
And gave a scornful chuckle.
Then Gessler frowned and knit his brows
(A most portentous omen);
“Risk your boy’s life or make those bows!”
(We’ve lost the boy’s cognomen.)

Tell smiled, and got his trusty bow,
Likewise his trusty arrow
(Now, William Tell, as you should know,
Could wing the fleeting sparrow
Or he could truly shoot the chutes)—
So Gessler said: “Now grapple
With this one fact—for you the boots
Unless you cleave the apple.”

Did Tell succeed? In your school books
The tale is very well told,
And Gessler looked some haughty looks
When he heard what Bill Tell told.
“What did you hide this arrow for?”
Asked Gessler of the wizard.
“I meant to split that apple, or
I’d have to harm your gizzard!”

That’s all, except it shall endure
As acted by Salvini.
(But was it?) And the overture
Composed by one Rossini
Shall prove that Tell is not a myth
Concocted to deceive us.
We’ve seen the bow he did it with;
We hope you will believe us.